Thanksgiving is over and the leftovers are eaten. If you’re like me, now it’s time to dive into the Holiday “to do” list. December is synonymous with a time of joy but between family, work, and social obligations, it could be difficult to find peace during this time of year.

Plan – Create a calendar for the holiday period.  It can be overwhelming to try and complete everything at once so take time to list a few things to accomplish each day leading up to the event, party, travel day, etc.  Note days you may need to ask for help with kids, errands, household tasks and plan ahead of time.  You’ll feel better mentally when you are able to cross off a few items on your list each day.

Prioritize – What absolutely has to be done today, and what can wait until after the holidays? Ask yourself this question when you begin to feel stress.  If a task can be held for completion next month, set it aside.

Keep it simple  – One reason for holiday stress is the desire to make everything “perfect.” If you’re working during this season, you may have less time for shopping, cooking, social events or travel. Lower your stress level by simplifying your holiday plans.  I’ve done this by limiting my decor (I only putting up a tree and decorated the mantel this year) and we are being selective on what parties, events, etc. we’re going to attend.  It’s okay to say no for your sanity.

Take care – Fatigue, headache, elevated blood pressure, shortness of breath, increased irritability and insomnia. These are all symptoms of stress. You can reduce these symptoms by taking care of yourself during the holiday season. Eat balanced meals, get plenty of sleep, avoid alcohol and exercise regularly. Exercise is particularly important for energy and good health during the holiday season.

Breathe – If the daily grind becomes too stressful, stop and take a number of slow, deep breaths. Inhale, count to 3 slowly and gradually exhale. After 4 or 5 breaths, you probably will feel much more relaxed.

The spirit of the season  – Do something to remember the real spirit of the holidays. Consider donating gifts to a needy family, collecting canned food for a local shelter or sponsoring “Santa’s visit” to a local children’s hospital. You might find this is the best “stress reliever” of all.

What can you do to limit the stress around the holidays this year?

– S.O.